There was an ancient yogic observation that the thought stream is influenced by our pattern of breathing. For example, yogis noticed that at the peak and trough of each cycle of breath the thoughts actually slowed down. So, in order to cultivate the experience of mental silence, they developed different breathing methods to utilise this natural slowing down. This is one of the simplest and is highly effective.
- Find a relatively quiet place to meditate.
- Sit in a comfortable position with hands in the lap, palms up. Your back should be straight so that the head, neck and back are in forming a natural vertical alignment, but do this in a relaxed way.
- Close your eyes. Bring your attention away from any external distractions, such as noise or minor discomforts, by paying attention to establishing a gentle, natural rhythm of regular breathing in and out through the nose.
- Now pay attention to the breath moving gently in and out of the nose and and chest. Observe the its gentle rhythm until it reaches its own natural rate.
- Now with each breath, breathe in gently.
- At the peak of the in-breath, pause for a second or two.
- Breathe out gently.
- At the bottom of the out-breath, pause for a second or two.
- Repeat this in a gentle rhythm, ensuring that it feels natural — don’t do it in such a way that makes you feel strained or short of breath.
- Continue gently for a few minutes: breathe in, pause; breathe out, pause; breathe in, pause, breathe out, pause.
- You should start to notice that the thoughts progressively slow down and, after a little while, at the peak of the in-breath and the trough of the out-breath they slow down to the point where a discernible space appears between the thoughts. Direct your attention to that space between the thoughts. Allow that space to gently widen out.
- As you become more silent inside, shift your attention to the space just above the top of your head. Or try the thought-stopping sequence (page XXX) to further widen the space between the thoughts.
When the silence emerges, shift your attention back to the space above the top of the head.